The term mid-priced madness is thrown around a lot in AFL Fantasy circles, with middle-tier talents often associated with plenty of risk. After a crazy 2020 season, this year presents us with a plethora of undervalued players priced between $300K-$600K, a lot of which offer serious bang for their buck. It’s unwise to pick all of these 22 candidates, but adding a few of them into your lineup may prove to be mid-price magic in the long run.
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Hayden Young, $337K, Dockers
Injury marred Hayden Young’s rookie season with the dashing Docker poised to be a fantasy factor now he has a clean bill of health. His first two performances hardly turned heads, but the booming left-footer burst onto the scene with a 77 and a 58 before he went down with an ankle complaint – scores adjusted to a 96 and a 72 in full-length quarters. Given his low price, you can see why 19% of coaches have currently slotted Young into their backline.
Lachlan Sholl, $442K, Crows
Featuring in Adelaide’s final eight games of 2020, Lachie Sholl will look to build on an impressive start to his AFL career. Fantasy coaches who stuck with Sholl until the end of the year were rewarded with a strong final fortnight from the Crows rookie as he posted impressive scores of 89 and 72. With Brodie Smith, Wayne Milera and Rory Laird all slated to spend some time in the midfield, Sholl could lock down a place into Adelaide’s back-6.
Issac Quaynor, $503K, Magpies
Quaynor is yet to put it all together from a fantasy standpoint with averages of 60.8 and 54.3 (67.9 adjusted) from his two pro seasons, but he’s in line for more opportunity in the upcoming season. The speedy Collingwood backman still only has 15 games of experience under his belt and he’ll continue to hone his craft in a defensive unit that boasts playmakers like Jack Crisp and Jeremy Howe. Don’t rule out IQ moving further up the ground and spending some time showing off his skills on a wing either.
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James Harmes, $474K, Demons
After spending last season predominately as a half-backman, James Harmes could provide serious value for coaches in 2021. Last season, the Melbourne veteran averaged just 49.7 points a contest (adjusted average of 62) as he was forced out of the Demon’s on-ball rotation to accommodate for Christian Petracca’s breakout campaign. If he’s given the licence to reside closer to the footy again and play his usual inside-mid role, then there’s’ no reason why Harmes can’t post an average above 80.
Wayne Milera, $446K, Crows
Speaking of more midfield time, Wayne Milera is another player associated with that preseason ‘buzz term’ as Adelaide restructures their on-ball rotation. The loss of Brad Crouch and some other MID depth pieces opens up an opportunity for other Crows to step up and Milera is one such player ready to succeed as a midfielder. Having missed the bulk of the 2020 season due to a stress fracture in his foot, a now-healthy Milera comes at an even further discount that has led to 20% of coaches adding him to their lineup.
Isaac Cumming, $355K, Giants
With Heath Shaw, Zac Williams and Aiden Corr departing from the Giants, the door has opened for Isaac Cumming to become a permanent member of the back-6. Cumming impressed during the 2020 preseason but was unable to string consistent matches together – adding just three games to his career tally. The lead candidate to take GWS’ kick-outs, there’s a high chance the 22-year old will perform 10-15 points better than his breakeven of 47, meaning we need to watch him closely in the AAMI Community Series clash against Brisbane.
Matthew Rowell, $574K, Suns
This is a layup. Any coach who hasn’t yet plugged Matthew Rowell into their fantasy lineup needs to reconsider their commitment to this game. Before his shoulder injury last year, Matthew Rowell was redefining what we thought was possible out of a first-year player, polling nine Brownlow votes to tie eventual winner Lachie Neale for the most votes after four matches. A dislocated shoulder halted his 2020 campaign in Round 5, but there’s no reason to think Rowell will struggle in the upcoming season, with every possibility he posts a triple-figure average and contends for the 2021 Rising Star award AND the Brownlow Medal.
Dyson Heppell, $566K, Bombers
Essendon’s skipper comes at a serious discount this season after foot surgery and a fractured ankle saw Dyson Heppell play just three games last year. From 2014-2018, Heppell missed just one game and scored in triple figures for each of those seasons – highlighting his elite fantasy game when he’s able to stay on the park. There may not be a regular place in the Dons’ midfield for Heppell anymore with Andy McGrath, Dylan Shiel and Zach Merrett doing a lot of the heavy lifting. However, even if Heppell spends time as a half-back flanker the potential of gaining DPP status in Round 6 might sway more coaches to pick him in their initial side.
Ben Cunnington, $503K, Kangaroos
Another veteran who was bitten by the injury bug last year, Ben Cunnington comes with plenty of promise in season 2021. The rugged Roos midfielder managed scores of 117, 57 and 26 before a back issue and further quad complaints stopped him from making another senior appearance. As North begins a new rebuilding project they’ll likely lean on experienced pros like Cunnington, which should see him shoulder a lot of the midfield responsibility and produce some impressive numbers in the process.
Tom Green, $443K, Giants
Six games in his rookie campaign saw Tom Green emerge as a solid cash cow for a portion of the fantasy community. His first four matches came in the opening six rounds, with Green then omitted and forced to fight for his spot back in the side. Green’s final two performances were much more encouraging, leading to some coaches picking the second-year Giant in their initial squad of 30. He’ll have to fight for his place in GWS’ best 22 once again, but if he can squeeze himself into the rotation, there’s a recipe to fantasy success for Green.
Rory Sloane, $580K, Crows
$580K is a bargain price to pay for a player of Rory Sloane’s calibre, with the Crows 200+ gamer providing plenty of fruitful fantasy scores in the past. Priced at just 76, a fractured hand was to blame for a lot of Sloane’s struggles last year having posted an average above 95 in five of his previous six seasons before 2020. Stepping into the solo captain role, expect Sloane’s numbers to trend upwards providing he can stay healthy and play week in, week out.
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Jackson Hately, $486K, Crows
Sloane’s new Adelaide teammate in Jackson Hately is another mid-pricer gathering steam this preseason, currently sitting as the 17th most owned player in the game. Having crossed over from GWS in the offseason, Hately is chasing more opportunity at the Crows and all signs point to him getting that chance early in the new season. Having averaged 69.7 points from his 13 games with the Giants, there’s every chance he becomes a point-scoring beast in Adelaide and if he’s named Round 1, Hately will be hard to pass up.
Brayden Sier, $402K, Magpies
Collingwood’s offseason departures have paved the way for Brayden Sier to finally succeed in black white this season. Since being picked in the 2015 draft, Sier hasn’t been able to cement a place in the Magpies’ side, waiting until 2018 to make his debut and playing no more than eight games in a single-season. That could change if he takes the opportunity in front of him with both hands, allowing Sier to become a regular cog at the Pies rather than a Phil Inn.
Luke Davies-Uniacke, $522K, Kangaroos
The former No. 4 pick has failed to fire since entering the AFL system with each of his three seasons thus far interrupted by injury issues. LDU has managed to improve his fantasy output in each campaign and now the explosive MID is looking to build on his adjusted average of 70 from a season ago. The Roos youngster has played in less than 50% of possible games since being drafted and if he can stay healthy this may be the year Davies-Uniacke becomes a serious fantasy factor.
Braydon Preuss, $377K, Giants
Only two players can claim the honour of a higher ownership percentage than Braydon Pruess right now, with the towering ruckman yet to establish himself as No. 1 on an AFL ruck depth chart. Having battled the likes of Todd Goldstein and Max Gawn in the past, the retirement of Sam Jacobs means Preuss may finally be able to lead a ruck division at his third club. With a criminally low breakeven of 50, Preuss will likely score closer to 70 and if GWS confirms he’ll lead their ruck division his ownership of 39% may keep climbing.
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Sam Draper, $454K, Bombers
Another young ruckman looking to make the most of another players’ retirement is Sam Draper, who managed to play the first eight games of his career in 2020. Consistency was the biggest issue with Draper’s fantasy game last year, however, now that Tom Bellchambers has hung up his boots, Andrew Phillips looms as his only competition for the lead ruck role. Picking him isn’t as much of a slam dunk as selecting Preuss, but if he can move past Phillips in the pecking order, there’s plenty of room for Draper to improve.
Lance Franklin, $377K, Swans
Can we trust Lance Franklin’s body? That’s the $377K question that fantasy coaches are currently asking themselves with Buddy once again under an injury cloud. A hamstring injury, groin issues and now a calf complaint have all hampered Franklin in the past 12 months and at 34-years old, it’s fair to assume Buddy’s best is behind him. If he’s fit and firing, the 300-game Swan has a chance to end his career on a high and satisfy a lot of fantasy coaches in the process, but that’s a big ‘if’.
Jye Caldwell, $502K, Bombers
Another ex-Giant in Jye Caldwell comes with a diminished price tag, chasing a greater role with Essendon. GWS’ star-studded midfield made it hard for Caldwell to find consistent games, despite showing flashes of promise and an adjusted average of 67.7 in his nine matches last year. If the Bombers give Caldwell midfield reps and steady games, there’s the possibility he’ll produce some notable scores, however, I do wonder how much meat is in the bone in terms of fantasy improvement.
Connor Rozee, $518K, Power
The 2019 Rising Star runner-up is in line for a greater role in his third season with the Power. After turning heads in his rookie campaign, Rozee came back to Earth in 2020 with his numbers taking a slight hit as he dealt with more attention from opposing defenders and coaches. The Port Adelaide x-factor seems set to once again increase the amount of time he spends in the midfield following the acquisition of Orazio Fantasia, which is only a good thing for his scoring output.
Jaidyn Stephenson, $470K, Kangaroos
A fresh start in blue and white stripes could see Jaidyn Stephenson recapture his best form and materialise into a point-scoring machine. Having played as a midfielder in his junior days, Stephenson has made a name for himself at the top level for his scoreboard impact and was deployed as a dangerous forward during his 54 games with Collingwood. Following his divorce with the Pies, Stephenson is expected to come out breathing fire in season 2021 and if North gives him a licence to roam up the ground, lofty fantasy scores should follow.
Jeremy Cameron, $488K, Cats
It’s well documented how much Geelong players love to share the footy inside-50 with Tom Hawkins, Patrick Dangerfield and Mitch Duncan alone combining for 50 goal assists in the 2020 fantasy season. They now welcome another premier talent in front of the sticks, with Jeremy Cameron proving he can put fantasy points up in a hurry (see AFL Fantasy Grand Final day in 2019). Having averaged 85+ twice in the past if Cameron can feast inside Geelong’s forward line, there’s no reason why he can’t come close to that average again.
Joe Daniher, $432K, Lions
Playing just 15 games in the last three season gives some coaches reason to pause before investing in the newest Lion. He has showcased his talents as a dangerous forward in the past, kicking 65 goals in the 2017 season and a healthy Daniher offers plenty of value for those brave enough to bite the bullet. Brisbane’s medical staff has been worshipped for their work in the past few years and getting Daniher’s body right could make the power forward a wise fantasy investment.
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